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Monday, August 1, 2011

Office Communicator Issues

Microsoft's Office Communicator (MOC) 2007 R2 is described as a unified communications application that helps end users in corporate environments collaborate with one another. Various integrated methods are used, including instant messaging (IM), desktop and video sharing, and voice. Of course, it's also designed to integrate with other Microsoft Office applications. However, as of 2010, Office Communicator has issues ranging from software compatibility problems with both Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications, to security flaws which may leave users vulnerable to hacking attacks.

MOC vs. PIC Users

Numerous little quirks come out when MOC is configured for public IMing with public Internet connectivity (PIC) IM-service providers such as AOL, MSN (Windows Live) and Yahoo! Messenger. Per Microsoft Support, one of the most compromising issues is MOC's inability to hold multiparty communication with PIC users--in other words, MOC users can hold only one-on-one conversations with PIC users.

Other problems are minor connectivity issues. For instance, a Yahoo user who specifies that his presence should always appear offline or unavailable to MOC still has his real status visible to the MOC user. Sometimes the issue has something to do with the actual info sent between MOC and a PIC user. For example, when an AOL user sends a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to a MOC user, the URL's appearance at the MOC user's end is changed.

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft's own email application, Outlook, has some compatibility issues regarding MOC, too. Sometimes the email address in the default Outlook profile differs from the sign-in address in MOC, prompting a connection error between them. Other times, a connection error message appears due to incorrect Windows Registry configuration for Outlook. Microsoft Support online offers solutions to these problems.

Other Software Compatibility

Though the MOC server uses the relatively common SIP/SIMPLE interface to handle communications between users, integration with non-Microsoft applications isn't guaranteed. Users are bound to encounter annoying bugs. One example involves using MOC with Cisco Systems' IP Communicator and Unified IP Phone. According to Cisco, even if MOC recognizes the presence of the Cisco Unified IP Phone, once Cisco IP Communicator is registered, MOC reverts to controlling the latter instead, losing control over the former. The confusing part comes when the user answers a call through his Cisco Unified IP Phone. MOC still automatically brings up a control window--even though it has no control over the device.

VoIP Security

The MOC 2007 is inherently vulnerable to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks in its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications, according to ZDNet and VoIPshield Labs. An attacker can hamper any MOC client's ability to access services through the following methods: flooding the client with instant messages containing a very large number of emoticons, forcing MOC to open a very large number of sessions to overload memory, or inserting a crafted Real Time Control Protocol (RTCP) receiver report packet, causing a DoS for multimedia data.

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